With the start of free agency, the Browns must do whatever they can to retain two key players from the 2016 team: Terrelle Pryor and Isaiah Crowell. While most would consider this to be a down year for free agency in terms of talent, the Browns still need to find a way to show their current players that they are all about winning. To do this, they must be willing to spend that colossal amount of cap space on free agents that can add to the current foundation of the Cleveland Browns.
Offensive Line: The Browns have openings at C with Cam Erving either getting destroyed or false starting every other snap and RT as the Browns unwilling to re-sign Austin Pasztor. Rumor has it Erving will fight for the RT job in camp against Spencer Drango and Shon Colemon, but with the stacked offensive line market some high profile talent may just fall through the cracks.
- JC Tretter (C): a fourth-round pick in 2013, Green Bay is letting him walk with Corey Linsley as their starter. During a seven-game stretch last season filling in for an injured Linsley, he showed the ability and athleticism to succeed at continued high level of play. The issue is his injury history missing the 2013 season and landing on IR in 2014 and 2016. The injuries will lower his asking price, but well worth the investment should he stay healthy.
- Kevin Zeitler (RG): a first round pick in 2012, Zeitler has dominated the Browns twice a year for 5 years. It’s time to flip the script. Zeitler can dominate anyone at the point of attack with sheer strength and a nasty temper. Imagine Crowell running behind Zeitler as a lead blocker! At only 27 years old, he would be a sound investment in solidifying the offensive line despite the potential $10 million/year price tag.
Wide Receiver: If Terrelle Pryor leaves within the first few hours of free agency, the Browns will have to move quickly to fill the hole of a 1,000-yard receiver.
- Kendall Wright: a first round pick in 2012, Wright hasn’t been able to reproduce the success of his sophomore season when he caught 94 passes, but he still has the athleticism and short-area quickness to be an unreal slot receiver with Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor (if he re-signs)
Rex Burkhead: a sixth-round pick in 2013, Burkhead carved out a role in Cincinnati as a hybrid factor back and slot receiver. Last season, he (74 rushes, 4.6 yds/carry) outplayed Giovani Bernard (91 rushes, 3.7 yds/carry) and Jeremy Hill (222 rushes, 3.8 yds/carry). Given the right situation, he could be sneaky effective. If the Browns don’t match an Isaiah Crowell offer sheet, don’t be surprised if Hue brings in one of his favorite players.